Kolkata: The Maoist hotbed of Jangalmahal is now poised to supply talented cricketers for Bengal in near future.
Aimed at finding cricketing talents in the troubled zone, spread over three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, Kolkata Knight Riders coach Dav Whatmore and National Cricket Academy director Sandeep Patil today visited the place and opened a residential coaching camp in Jhargram.
The coaching camp is organised by the Cricket Association of Bengal. Four NCA and four CAB coaches will impart training in the camp that got off to a rousing start as about 300 aspiring cricketers in the age group of 14 to 16 years got themselves registered on the first day, prompting the CAB to run the camp for 10 days instead of seven.
Giving example of successful India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, former India coach Patil said, "The game of cricket is no longer restricted to big cities. A lot of cricketers are coming in from small towns and districts."
Sri Lanka`s 1996 World Cup winning coach Whatmore, who is now the head of Bengal`s junior cricket development committee, said he would try to give as much time possible for the camp in the districts.
"It`s a tremendous effort from CAB. After all, 60 per cent of the cricketers are from districts. I will try to give as much time possible," Whatmore said.
The state association plans to make it a full-fledged camp from November and the few selected players will be up for selection in CAB teams, joint secretary Biswarup Dey said.
"We will open a full fledged coaching centre in Jhargram in November and selected cricketers will get a chance to make CAB teams," Dey said.
"These areas are debarred from sporting activities for a long time. But we have a vision in place to spread cricket in Jangalmahal. This game is like a religion in this country. Given proper facilities, we believe cricket can be a big hit there."
"If proper facilities are provided, there is no reason why youngsters would think twice to take up the sport as a career," Dey said.